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PowerPoint Is More Trouble Than It’s Worth

What comes to mind when you hear PowerPoint? Is it an inexplicable desire to create some slides? A memory of so many great presentations you've sat through? Or maybe a faint echo of countless hours spent crafting, adjusting, and fine-tuning slides?

For those of us who are lucky enough to never have to create another slide deck in PowerPoint again, it's a distant memory we don't like to revisit. We remember the last time we had to create one as if it was a huge, life-changing event.

Mine was in high school, the topic was amphibians, and nobody, including me, was looking forward to it. Now, don't get me wrong - my fight here is not with frogs, newts, or salamanders. It's with PowerPoint and how it makes everything feel like a mandatory seminar you can't wait to be over.

Why we still use PowerPoint

You have to give it to PowerPoint - for software that's been around for 36 years, it's still going strong. Estimates show that its 500 million monthly active users create around 30 million presentations per day. But not everything created in PowerPoint is a presentation, at least not the way it was intended.

When PowerPoint was first developed, it was supposed to be a simple presenting tool. An easier way of presenting graphics and key information in a time when overhead projectors were all the rage.

overhead projector powerpoint slide

However, as time went by and computers evolved, so did PowerPoint. Besides text and simple graphics, you can now also add video, images, and links. And if you don't feel like spending a lot of time designing your slides, the 365 version of PowerPoint has one built in.

Since PowerPoint is a standard part of the MS Office package, it's widely available to users. Because of its availability and features added over the years, people now use it for much more than creating simple presentations.

Whether it's graphics like the one I created above or full on business proposals exported to PDF, people no longer use PowerPoint only as it was intended. No wonder then we can't get it to work for us, right?

Is it because we're using it wrong?

You could argue that PowerPoint only disappoints when you use it for anything other than a presentation. But even if you do only create presentations, research has shown that PowerPoint has negative effects on our brains.

We don't remember information

When we're watching a slideshow and listening to the presenter at the same time, our brains struggle to keep up. We either focus more on reading or listening, meaning we don't register all the information presented to us.

The solution would be to use PowerPoint for images and graphics and let the presenter convey the words to explain them. However, PowerPoint makes it so easy to add a few bullet points that you just can't resist.

We get bored

If you ever found yourself dissociating during a PowerPoint presentation, you'll be happy to hear research has shown it's not your fault. The nature of slideshows is that they go from one slide to the next, creating simple, repetitive sequences.

Besides oversimplifying complex and related information, this also results in predictable sequences. Those sequences, in turn, make audiences less engaged and more lulled into pure boredom.

We often miss the whole story

Speaking of oversimplifying information, PowerPoint also has a way of making you fit the story to the slide instead of adjusting the slide to the story. As a result, you end up distilling complex information into scannable bullet points.

This results in the loss of context that then needs to be filled in by the audience. In the end, you have no way of knowing how and if your point came across.

What happens in an office setting

Considering the fact that most offices in the world use some iteration of MS Office, using it has become a matter of familiarity. Or, maybe it's the lack of a better choice.

Need to draft up a contract? You'll reach for MS Word. Want to create a business proposal? MS Word. Or, if you don't have the patience to fiddle with the formatting, you'll opt for PowerPoint and export it to PDF.

What this essentially is? A bad habit, more than anything else. If you disagree, take a second to think about the world we live in today and the content we consume on a daily basis. Why has social media become our go-to source of entertainment and information?

Because it's interactive. Because it's online. Because you don't need to download every short video of a dog carrying a ridiculously oversized stick just to watch it. 

You just take out your phone, click on a link, and there it is. So why aren't we treating the documents we send the same way?

Nobody wants to download a PDF

But they will if they absolutely have to. Just as you don't want to format a Word doc or create a PowerPoint presentation, but you'll do it if you have no other choice.

Except, you do. Online document software has been around for a while now, and more and more businesses are using it. And if you're among those who are still not taking advantage of modern document management solutions, you're falling behind.

nobody wants a pdf stats

It's time to bring your docs into the 21st century

Traditional business documents and modern times don't mix well. Speed and convenience are now factors influencing our purchasing decisions. And outdated file formats offer neither one.

Instead of static text, modern documents are now responsive and filled with interactive content. From interactive pricing tables and eSignatures to embedded videos and instant payments, web-based documents meet and exceed client expectations.

documents need to be mobile friendly

But the advantages aren't only on the clients' side. Web-based documents give your business advantages traditional documents could never: activity tracking and analytics.

Besides letting you know about each action your client takes on a document, this also helps in improving your docs and your sales process. By seeing how each of your documents is performing, you get valuable insights into what needs further improvement. Whether it's sales rep training or bringing more consistency into your docs, dedicated software gives you data to help address it.

Admitting you need help is the first step

The second one is signing up for Better Proposals. The first 14 days are on us.

Patricija Šobak's profile image
Patricija Šobak puts her talent in spotting questionable grammar and shady syntax to good use by writing about various business-related topics. Besides advocating the use of the Oxford comma, she also likes coffee, dogs, and video games. People find her ability to name classic rock songs only from the intro both shocking and impressive.